Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Problem of Over-Regulation, aka We Just Hit Chapter 10 of Atlas Shrugged

(Via memeorandum)

Thank you, Congressman Oberstar for telling the FAA it wasn't being intrusive enough in its attempts to hyper-regulate air travel. I'm sure anyone hoping to fly in the next three months deeply appreciates your efforts. (As a side note: my understanding is that most of these maintenance issues are unrelated to safety, so our economy is going to be even more screwed up than it would have been just so the FAA can look tough for the Congressman). I'm even more certain that the airline industry and its hundreds of thousands of employees also appreciate all the cancelled flights and lost customers which will result in even bigger losses than usual in this quarter. It's not as if airlines ever go out of business or anything.

As someone who has had his share of professional battles with the FAA, anyone who thinks that the FAA isn't aggressive enough has no idea what they're talking about. Of course, if you've ever read the Federal Airline Regulations and the thousands of circulars that the FAA puts out, you would realize that it is literally impossible to comply with every regulation the FAA has and still serve your customers in an acceptable fashion. Of course, when you have that many regulations to oversee, there is probably a tendency to overlook some of the less-important violations in order to make sure you can safeguard against the more-important violations. Or, just as likely, and as Ayn Rand and Hayek both pointed out, the enforcement of those regulations just becomes completely arbitrary and based on personal connections.

***UPDATE*** Iain Murray makes the point that these idiotic hyperinspections, which come out of one man's desire to have his ring kissed, may actually be worsening safety. As Murray points out, no small number of travelers stopped by the useless inspections will travel to their ultimate destinations by car instead. Car travel being significantly more dangerous than air travel, the likelihood is that the FAA's bow to Congressman Oberstar will actually cost more lives than it will save.

More at memeorandum.